Coaches differ in views of wins
Nevada’s Chris Ault and UTEP’s Mike Price go back a long ways. They were coaching rivals in the Big Sky, and now are matching wits in the Western Athletic Conference.
Both played Division 1-AA schools last weekend, and both emerged with big victories. Nevada crushed Sacramento State 59-7 and UTEP blanked Weber State 32-0.
Their remarks after the wins and in Monday’s WAC teleconference possibly say a lot about the programs.
“Not a lot,” Ault said when asked what the Wolf Pack could take away from last weekend’s win over the outmanned Hornets. “They aren’t the caliber of the teams we’ll face in our conference. You don’t gain a lot from a game like that. I got that game scheduled for the coach (Chris Tormey) that was here before me.”
Price, who took over a team that went 2-11 last season (1-7 in conference), took a different stance.
“We’ll take any victory we can get,” Price said. “The team we played won eight games last year.
“The improvement from the first game to the second game was great for us. It was the first shutout in 13 years. It was the best game, stat-wise, defensively since 1967.”
The remarks lead one to believe that Ault might have more, higher expectations this year than Price.
• Pat Hill, Fresno State head coach, admitted he was a bit surprised that the Bulldogs weren’t ranked a little higher than 19th, and you can’t blame him for feeling that way after road wins at Washington and Kansas State.
“If you base it on games and performance, yeah I think it could have been (higher),” Hill said. “It could have been for Boise State, too. You also have to look at strength of schedule. That’s what everybody is basing it on.
“I gave out quotes that I expected to win the first two games. We have high expectations in the program. I felt I had the kind of team to win these two games. I feel good about the mindset of the team. I don’t think there will be a letdown with this football team. They’re very focused playing one game at a time.”
Hill remembers the early years when Fresno State would lose regularly (0-9) to BCS schools, and now he’s having the last laugh. Since 2000, Fresno State has posted a 9-6 record against BCS schools.
Hill was asked what would happen if a non-BCS school ran the table and went undefeated.
“I think the nation would demand the game, especially if you play a nonconference schedule where you had to put it on the line against highly ranked or highly acclaimed traditional teams and won. I think the nation would demand that type of game. I don’t think the polls or computer would let that happen.”
• With the early success of Fresno State and Boise State, Karl Benson, WAC commissioner, said there is a good chance that ESPN could pick up the battle between the WAC heavyweights.
“ESPN has the ability to select a game 12 days out,” Benson said. “It is certainly on their radar screen.”
If the game is picked up, Benson said he hopes that ESPN would keep the game on Saturday instead of moving it to Thursday or Friday.
• SMU head coach Phil Bennett is still searching for a quarterback. Neither sophomore Chris Phillips or Tony Ekert has done a real good job. He plans on playing both again against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“Chris wasn’t able to get into a rhythm,” Bennett said. “He had two drives (12 plays and nine plays), but just couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.
“Tony came in and it was 21-0. He tried to force too many things. Tony will get better, and Chris will, too.
“I told them we would look at the first three games and see who was performing and who wasn’t. We need to get a guy (back there) that the team is confident with.”
• Price entered the Sun Bowl before the start of the Weber State game with a 125-year-old pickax in his hands.
“It (the Saturday axe) was given to me by a prof,” Price said. “It’s hand forged. We start every practice with a pickax in the ground. It’s a tradition.
“It’s what miners (UTEP’s mascot is the Miners) have in their hands. We do our work outside and they do theirs in the shade of a cave. It’s the type of football team we are. We’re hard-working; a blue-collar type of team.”
• Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky, who completed 20 of 34 passes for 225 yards and three scores in a 53-34 win over Boise State last Friday, was named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
Zabransky was also a force in the running attack, gaining 73 yards on 14 carries. He scored on a 1-yard run.
Korey Hall, Boise State linebacker, was named the conference’s top defensive player after intercepting three passes, including one for a 46-yard score.
“Jared is coming around,” said Dan Hawkins, Boise State head coach. “He made some good throws under pressure and he did some great things with his legs, too. Korey was all over the field. His first interception was what jump-started us.”
Boise trailed 14-3 until the Hall interception.
UTEP kicker Reagan Schneider was named the top special teams player after a school record-tying four field goals (37, 40, 52, 38) in a 32-0 win over Weber State. He also was 2-for-2 on extra points, giving him 14 points total for the game.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or call (775) 881-1281